Published by Knopf on September 9, 2014
Source: Owned Audible Book, Read in 2015
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur's chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.
Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten's arm is a line from Star Trek: "Because survival is insufficient." But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it forever, but my book club is the best! We had such a great time reading and discussing this novel, despite it being the second post-apocalyptic book (the month before we read Into the Woods). There was just so much here to discuss and examine. Sandy picked the book, and hosted, and it was a lively debate.
Katie brought up the significance of the number 3 in the book, which none of us caught until she mentioned it. We had fun pointing out character connections others missed, or wondering how well we’d survive in a similar future. A few members, ahem, conspired to survive the inevitable apocalypse together, while others among us acknowledged they’d be the first to die.
The title of the book gets it’s name from a graphic novel that one of the main characters created, and we were all disappointed that there were no illustrations in the book., and most of us felt that would have added to the story. I personally listened to the audiobook (which I really loved), but I almost bought the physical version but didn’t when I realized there were no Station Eleven pictures. This book is definitely going to be added to my list of favorite book club reads!
Station Eleven gets a Midnight Book Rating of: